Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There were 157 new cases of sex-related, chemical -related and newly detected cases of synthetic drug HGH in Ontario
Ontario province has reported nearly 800 new cases of “synthetic drug” chemical addictions, more than double the number detected in the first half of 2018.
Of the most recent total, 109 new cases of synthetic drug HGH were detected in schools, setting a record.
A “significant proportion” of the total provincial cases were believed to be linked to the growth of the maker of HGH, SYN-239.
Last month, a 23-year-old Toronto man named Ivan Novak pleaded guilty to 15 counts of producing a controlled substance, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
But he has denied making the synthetic HGH.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There have been several high-profile deaths linked to synthetic drugs
Health Canada said toxicology reports from 2016 to 2018 are encouraging, “proving that these drugs pose the most serious public health threats of any drug class”.
It said a nationwide search of criminal and controlled substance court dockets found the incidence of criminal offences related to synthetic drugs had increased “significantly”.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Last year’s girl who died after allegedly smoking synthetic cannabis was just 11
Unlike substances currently on the list of controlled substances, “synthetic cannabinoids” are made in China using an unregulated process.
“Controlled substances have grown into a virtual cottage industry – created in China by chemical or synthetics suppliers – involving an unsuspecting public that do not know what they are getting,” said Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr David Williams.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has also reported an increase in the number of synthetic drug-related deaths in the US – from an average of 565 a year to 886 in 2017.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Among the ‘disturbing trends’ in reports from the province are cases of synthetic opioid use in young people
Almost seven out of 10 those confirmed deaths were related to either opioids or heroin, the HHS said.
Other new names
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Donny Cundal (pictured) was a singer and musician with the band Billy Talent
HGH, a hormone known as ‘luteinising hormone’, or LH, is present in humans and other mammals. When combined with the cannabinoids found in marijuana, it can be a powerful stimulant, helping human alertness, muscle contraction and increased exercise capacity.
But it has been linked to the development of drug abuse and drug-induced changes in the body including altered metabolism, increases in body fat, increased body temperature and heart rate, sedation, breathing changes, as well as nervous system changes.
LPG is another drug being linked to drug abuse. It acts on the brain and nervous system, causing a high similar to cocaine, without the risk of physical dependence.
Noelle MacTavish, a former addict, and founder of her own group Addiction Up Close, said a lack of awareness about the issue “is driving an awful lot of the use of synthetic drugs, but it’s what drives their popularity, so we need to do more to bring about awareness.”
Other suspects to be suspected
The city of Ajax has also confirmed new cases of “coffee-date” laced substances, or THC, in bottled coffee.
Marc-Andre Denoux, a high school teacher, has been charged with illegal possession after prosecutors believe he had over 23,000 doses of the psychoactive drug.
One of the accused individuals on trial for importing this drug was Michael Johnson, who had “a massive clandestine lab – a small cottage industry – there, and packed coffee in plastic bottles”, said Fabien Welch, an agent with the Canada Border Services Agency, in a news conference.